Singer Schulz balances his music and his age
Published: Monday, April 22, 2002
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 22:07
Judging by the A&M posters that adorn his bedroom walls and the collegiate paraphernalia that splashes his room maroon, it is not hard to deduce that John Wayne Schulz wants to be an Aggie, like his siblings before him. But at only 14 years old, Schulz has several years before he needs to worry about application deadlines and the anxious anticipation that ensues. In the meantime, he devotes his energy to a hobby that few his age could ever imagine -- a country music career.
Schulz's debut album Ropin' Dreams plays in only a modest amount of stereos, mostly those of friends, family and fans made on the road. But with a calendar full of gigs, it is bound to gain momentum.
Schulz has seven Grammy nominations, including Best Country Album of the Year and Best New Country Artist, but Schulz's talent was acknowledged long before the prospect of owning a golden gramophone.
"My first public appearance was at a talent show in the second grade," Schulz said. "After that, I was asked to perform at banquets, county fairs and pageants. I did a talent show for 4-H in Three Rivers, Texas, and ended up winning. I then realized that [singing] was what I really wanted to do."
With the confidence and support of his family, Schulz continued with his blossoming music career, but after a few years the family realized that a sacrifice had to be made.
"In sixth grade we just decided it was best if I home schooled," Schulz said. "Being on the road is a lot of fun, but it's a lot of work, too. I have spare time to do schoolwork during the week when I don't have gigs. But I'm definitely going back to school for high school, because I don't want to miss those years."
While Schulz is busy doing schoolwork, his mom, Vicky, arranges performances and manages his schedule. Vicky plays a pivotal role in getting Schulz's name out to the public, but him having a name identical to that of a celebrity does not hurt.
"When people find out my name is John Wayne, they always ask if I was named after the movie star," Schulz said. "Sometimes they think that it is just a stage name, but I have one uncle named John and another named Wayne, so I sometimes say I was named after them. But my dad really is a John Wayne fan."
With the help of his familiar name, talent and his family's support, Schulz has made it across the country, from Texas and Nevada to Kansas and Louisiana. No matter where he goes, Schulz's goal is the same -- promoting his album, Ropin' Dreams. The 10 track LP, produced by Texas company BSW Records, was made with the help of several professional artists, including Asleep at the Wheel pianist Chris Gage and the drummer for Jerry Jeff Walker, Freddie Krc. While other artists provided the majority of the lyrics for the CD, Schulz said he planned on doing some of his own songwriting for his next album.
But Schulz said he does not plan on working on another album until he finishes touring and promoting Ropin' Dreams, a debut that has caught the attention of Willie Nelson, Alan Jackson and the Grammys. What most people do not realize, Schulz said, is that there is more to the Grammys than what is shown on TV.
"Many people think that the only songs and artists nominated are those in the top five," Schulz said. "But there are a lot of people nominated, and I got picked for Best Country Vocal Performer for [my song] 'Rockin' Horse.' "
Schulz has not let seven Grammy nominations get to his head, however. He is still a teenager, and like a teenager, he said he wants to do things people his age do. He also has not had time for a girlfriend since sixth grade, a fact that at times, makes him hesitate to take the next step in his music career.
"Sometimes I just want to say 'I quit,' " Schulz said. "[A music career] is a lot of work and takes a lot of time. Sometimes I just want to be with my friends."
Schulz said he loves being on the road and playing music, so the negatives balance the positves.
Next week, the road will lead him to Kansas and next fall, to London. Eventually, his path will bring him to A&M, but Schulz said he does not plan on letting his passion die when he gets to College Station.
"I'm not sure yet, but I'll probably want to do something mechanical when I get to A&M," Schulz said. "A&M is a wonderful college with true spirit. And it has the perfect music scene."